- Ethan Cui
The Rise of Far Right-Wing Activity in Germany
The era of National Socialism, Nazism and Fascism in Germany has been long gone. However, the current rise of anti-semitism among the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany is plaguing the nation, making way for an egregious plight for German-Jewish members of Germany and in many other places across Europe - anachronistic for the great German nation of today. The Jewish people of Germany are being scapegoated for the cause and spread of COVID-19 and Jewish leaders are expressing indignation and much concern for their people. The fomenting of racism against the Jewish population of Germany accompanied by anti-semitic violence and demonstrations carried out by right-wing extremists pose direct threats and is menacing the many lives of the Jewish community in Germany.
The causes of anti-semitic sentiment in Germany:
There are three primary factors that contribute to the spread and rise of antisemitism throughout Germany. The first being the migration of people from the Middle Eastern nations. These include asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants, a large number of which are from countries where the practice of Islam is widespread. Among them are people exposed to the doctrines of opposing the Jewish race and religion due to disputes and tensions between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations. In many of these countries of the Middle East, citizens are educated in this way ever since childhood and they tend to be tenacious about these teachings, even when they have relocated to other countries. However, this does not apply to the people of those specific nations or practitioners of Islam as a whole. Saying that the incline of anti-Jewish acts was caused entirely by Muslims would be unfair and false. The exception is that the growing influence of foreign Muslim organizations that are in favour of acts of antisemitism is definitely alarming. This is accompanied by the second factor, which is the uprising and popularity of right-wing extremism. As an example, in 2017, a right-wing nationalist party was admitted into the federal governing body of Germany for the first time, ever since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany. This stimulated the activities of many people who were benevolent towards far-right-wing sentiments and ideology, including antisemitism. The third and final thing that allowed antisemitism to flourish in Germany were celebrities and other people of fame and importance, who specifically endorse far-right-wing acts. Due to their prominence, these particular individuals had a wider influence on the general public, which does not only exist within far right-wingers but extends into a larger network of audiences within many different communities. This ultimately allowed for their anti-Jewish beliefs and messages to reach many others, thus heavily increasing the influence of antisemitism among people.
One sole way the far-right groups in Germany try to convey their anti-semitism is through congregations of people that are extreme right-wing sympathizers. They gather to conduct anti-Jewish demonstrations. During the unprecedented times of the current pandemic, the members of the Jewish community face even more unprecedented times. The Jewish population in Germany is being held responsible and scapegoated for the spread COVID-19 by the Reichsbürger movement and many other Neo-Nazi underground organizations (“Reichsbürger” meaning “Imperial Citizens”). These attempts are to downplay the Holocaust. The Reichsbürger movement consists of underground organizations and entities that are behind the persuasion of the anti-semitic thoughts and their persistence in Germany. These far right-winged entities deny the legitimate existence of the German Federal Republic and still regard the nation as the one under the Fascist dictatorship of the Third Reich. During protests held by right-wing extremists, demonstrators wear costumes of the uniforms that Jewish prisoners of the Holocaust wore, with the yellow stars and impersonate them. The demonstrators replace the word “Jude” meaning “Jew”, with the name “Ungeimpft” meaning “Unvaccinated” in German. This intends to label the Jewish as unclean or contaminated, thus fuelling the hearsay that they are the ones who put the world in the current pandemic. Additionally, they hold signs that read “Masks Set You Free ”, a reference to “Arbeit Macht Frei”, the quote that was displayed on the entrances of the notorious concentration camps for the Jewish, where the Nazi regime attempted to decimate the Jewish race and subject many others to torture. Extreme and deliberate acts of violence that specifically target the Jewish inhabitants in Germany are regarded as political crimes. The Research and Information Institute on Anti-Semitism (RIAS) registered 881 anti-Semitic incidents in the year 2019 for Berlin, including 38 cases of vandalism, 59 cases of harassment and 33 physical attacks. (Schmitz, 2020). Many other pernicious methods of anti-semitism have also been utilized, such as propaganda, hate speech, media posts, and homicide. Such groups, organizations and actions pique a network of conspiracies that target the German-Jewish population.
Throughout history, Jewish people have been falsely accused of the spread of viruses and unfortunate events, while having many controversies labelled on their race. For example, the Jewish were blamed for the cause and spread of the Bubonic Plague during the middle ages. Earlier unwarranted persecution of the Jewish dates back to the 1300s, many years before the humiliation imposed upon them during the great depression in Germany and blame for Germany’s defeat in the Great War. During the Black Death, the Jewish were blamed and scapegoated for infecting wells, dumping toxic chemicals and substances, and dirtying other public places in order to spread the Bubonic Plague and cause a crisis. During that time period, many Jewish people were humiliated and slaughtered for something they never did or never intended to do. This then resulted in centuries more hate, condemnation and distrust. With the current situation in Germany, many Jewish people refrain from or avoid revealing their Jewish identity, thus putting their self-liberty in jeopardy. From this, it can be seen that antisemitism can also be detrimental to the confidence of the Jewish victims, as well as their esteem.
Currently, a variety of anti-semitic acts such as threats and messages are circulating the Federal Republic of Germany and has possibly leaked into other parts of Europe. Government agencies, organizations and political party members have received numerous emails and messages that specifically target Jewish members of society. For example, the main public health advisory body for the German federal government, the Robert Koch Institute, reported receiving hundreds of messages that threaten its scientists and intend to slander individuals. Several of the emails have stated “What a shame for those of you who are accessories of this phoney government that there are no more gas chambers''. This statement was a reference to the method of extermination employed by the Nazis during Germany’s Third Reich. Research and surveys have unveiled the disturbing fact that 20% of the population of Germany today still have anti-semitic thoughts or prejudices. To put that into perspective, 1 out of every 5 Germans today are anti-semitic. For a long time, these individuals have never dared to reveal their sentiment. Subsequently, the rise of anti-Jewish demonstrations, messages and groups have allowed these timid far-right radicals to stand out and gain stronger motivation to support their beliefs, thus increasing the potential for more anti-semitic acts.
With the current issue in Germany, a number of warnings for the German-Jewish community have been issued for the increase of violence and attacks directed on the Jewish. Encouragement for Jewish members to be prudent in public for any verbal attacks or assaults have also been presented. Many incidents pertaining to anti-Jewish beliefs have resulted in the decline of safety in the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of this, political critics in the country have been encouraging law-enforcement agencies to investigate more into hate crimes conducted by right-wing extremists. They also seek to make the difference between freedom of speech and hate speech more clear to the people.
As a country that is a major leader of the European Union and a nation that holds a significant ascendancy on the world stage, the Federal Republic of Germany has a large responsibility to invest into deterring acts of anti-semitism and contain the spread radical right-wing influence across Europe, as it targets a group that is very susceptible throughout Europe and is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Ultimately, Neo-Nazi interests and ideology pose abysmal threats and are against the interests and the values of today’s Germany. By preventing and containing the influence of radical right-wing sentiment, it will eradicate a significant burden of the peace and security of Germany. There is much faith in the German government to remedy the issue. Many people in the EU overlook this situation with much neglect. Others overseas have rudimentary understandings of the issue or are simply oblivious of it. This issue shall not be forsaken and the just treatment and rights of the Jewish population must be ensured of and strictly enforced. It is our pledge as responsible global citizens to be acquainted with such issues and learn how we can play our roles in combating injustice. In a world where justice and peace are being pursued, stigmatization on the grounds of race and identity will have to be abolished. This will ultimately make way for greater equality for all people.